Business should take the lead in HK pollution

Chinese industry could learn from experience in the US when it comes to pollution-cutting initiatives, according to a visiting dignitary.

Speaking before the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong last Friday, The US Consul General James Cunningham told members not to wait for government to force their hand and argued that it was possible to cut pollution while improving financial performance.

Hong Kong is notorious for its air pollution and Mr Cunningham cited examples of how private enterprises in comparable port cities in the US had made significant improvements to local air quality through their own initiatives.

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach had launched a Clean Air Action Plan in 2006, he said, to cut pollution from ships as well as the lorries and trains which serve them.

Strategies had included plugging docked ships into the on-shore electricity grid so they did not need to run their engines while in harbour and retro-fitting land-based diesel vehicles with particulate traps and other pollution-reducing equipment.

“These steps are having positive effects in reducing pollution, particularly the low-altitude pollutants that people breathe on the streets and in their homes,” said Mr Cunningham.

“This programme is one of the boldest air quality initiatives by any port and there may be lessons here for Hong Kong and other ports around the globe.”

“We in the United States have learned that government and private industry must work together to address deteriorating air quality.”

Mr Cunningham also spoke about the financing available for pollution prevention and energy efficiency, or ‘P2E2’, measures.

The brainchild of the US-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, the P2E2 initiative allows companies to invest in equipment which will improve their environmental and financial performance using loans from commercial banks which are underwritten by development banks, making it easier for the companies to secure financing than might otherwise be the case.

Schemes that have already benefited under this system include upgrading pumps and fans at fossil fuelled power stations.

Sam Bond

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